To say the morale around the Texas baseball team is low would be an understatement. Not only is Texas on a 5-game losing streak, tied for the longest in head coach David Pierce’s tenure, the team’s most recent pair of losses have been flat-out given away.
On Friday, West Virginia traveled to Austin to take on a Longhorn baseball team that’s in the process of finding itself. The game was tied 2-2 going into the ninth inning, but West Virginia found a way to scratch one run and Texas failed to match.
This after a Tuesday that saw Texas blow a 3-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning against Texas State in San Marcos. Neither game, however, was quite as ugly as Oklahoma State’s sweep of Texas this past weekend that saw the Longhorns allow 36 runs and walk 32 batters over the course of the three games.
Texas’ pitching staff, a unit that has struggled with throwing strikes, rebounded nicely in the losing effort on Friday night. Friday night starter sophomore Bryce Elder continues to be one of the team’s few bright spots. He brought a no-hit bid all the way into the seventh inning before allowing two runs on two hits. He finished the day with 7.2 innings pitched and a career-high 13 strikeouts.
The loss would bring Elder’s season win-loss total to 2-3, a record that does not indicate the level the first-year starter has pitched at throughout the course of the season. Elder’s ERA is an impressive 2.97 and his opposing batting average is an equally impressive .243.
Elder’s only downfall has been his inability to rally the offense for games when he is on the mound. In his 11 starts, Elder has only allowed more than three earned runs only twice. He allowed three earned runs only three times, and allowed zero, one or two runs in his other six starts.
Senior Matteo Bocchi was given the task of keeping the game tied after Elder’s exit but allowed a solo home run in the ninth inning, the run that would eventually pull the game out in the Mountaineers’ favor.
Offensively, Texas had a solid nine hits, four of which came from freshman outfielder Eric Kennedy. Kennedy went 4-4 for the first time in his career and also tacked on two runs to his stat line. The perfect performance boosted his batting average to .306, making him Texas only hitter with an average above .300. Frankly, he’s the only Texas hitter in the .300 neighborhood.
Though his defense leaves some to be desired, Kennedy has turned into Texas’ most dangerous hitter. He went through some struggles with injuries mid-way through the season but is back and seems to be as good at the plate as ever.
Texas’ current record now sits at 24-20. As hard as that is to read, the Longhorns’ conference record is an ugly 5-10. With only two conference series left after this weekend, there is a realistic possibility of Texas not even making a Regional tournament. If things don’t get turned around soon, it may well just happen.
Texas will look to rebound and break this rough streak with a win on Saturday in the second game of the series versus WVU. First pitch is set for 2:30 P.M.
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